Personal blog of a freelance designer

Illustrator: Align to key object

In the Align pallet in Illustrator there are three options to align your elements to:

  1. Align to selection
  2. Align to key object
  3. Align to artboard

“Align to selection” will align all the objects in relation to each other irrespective of where they are placed on the artboard. “Align to artboard” will align all selected objects in relation the the artboard. However, there is a third option, “Align to key object”, which is usually disabled. This option allows you to select one key object and align all other objects in relation to it. You enable the option by selecting the objects you want to align, and then click again on the one object you want to set as the key object. There is no need to press any modifier key, just select the objects then click the key object again – you will see it will have a thicker selection line. Now the “Align to key object” will be enabled and you can select it.


  1. There is no option in Align selection and Key Object. What shall i do?????

    • First you need to open the align palet by going to Window > Align. Once that palet is open, go back to your artboard and select all the objects you want to align. Once they are all selected simply click on the object you want the rest of the objects to align to. Do not hold down any modifier keys, just click the object again and you will see a thicker selection line appear around it. This tells you that the object is set as the key object and all other items will align horizontally/vertically to it. Back in the Align palet, click on the “align to” button as highlighted in red in the graphic above. This will give you a fly out menu with the “align to section” and “align to key object” options. Select whichever option you require then align the objects as per usual in the options available in the palet. Did this clear things up for you?

  2. thanks so much! i was wondering why it wouldn’t come up with the special selection..i was pressing the ctrl key still! lol! Thx.

  3. Nice! Thanks =)

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